Al Galail – 338ft
Matthew Gilbertson March 8, 2016 (*highest legal point attained)
Eric Gilbertson September 2, 2016 (true highest point attained)
I drove to the spot that lyngve skrede said was the turnoff to the highpoint, and indeed it is a military observation post as he mentioned. There was a police car parked right at the turnoff road. I asked if I could go over to the top and they said no. They didn’t speak much English but they did know “no okay” and waved their finger to indicate that it was off limits. It was pretty clear what message they were trying to convey. There was basically no way to get up it without them noticing. Lyngve skrede got lucky that nobody was around when he came.
I did climb up some nearby sand dunes (probably 2 miles away) that I measured to be 82m high, compared with lyngve’s 103m for the real summit. They certainly looked to be the same height although of course it’s hard to tell.
I caught an evening flight from Dubai to Doha, and quickly drove out in a rental car. Walking outside felt
like walking into a hot swimming pool. The temperature was 100F (even in the evening), and the air was extremely humid. It’s amazing how it can get this humid in a desert, but it may be related to the proximity to the ocean.
I drove out of town, past big green, purple, and blue vertical towers outside the airport. After a brief stop at a Dairy Queen to eat some ice cream I headed west out of town on Salwa Road towards the Saudi Arabia border. Outside of Doha I entered the desert, with no lights other than street lights. I turned left on the Qatar-UAE road, and eventually saw a big red signpost reading “Al Galail Outpost – 5km”. There was no need to rely on my GPS now – there were actually signs pointing me towards the highpoint!
I turned right at the next sign, followed a gravel road for a few minutes, and parked on what appeared to be the summit. Unlike Matthew’s unlucky encounter with a policeman at the road entrance, this time I was totally alone. When I turned off the car, the only lights I could see were a few faint dots many miles in the distance at a lonely village.
Al Galail is sometimes used as a military training site, but here at 11:45pm on a Friday night, there was luckily no training going on. I verified the highpoint location with my GPS, and stepped out on a small rock outcrop to take a picture. This was consistent with the pictures I’d seen of other highpointers on the summit, though they were all taken in the daylight.
Amazingly, I was just about able to stick my foot out the car door and tag the summit. This would make it one of the physically-easiest country highpoints in the world (if you’re lucky with access like I was).
I parked right there 5ft from the summit and slept in my car. I left all the windows down, and somehow managed to sleep sitting up in the passenger’s seat despite the heat and humidity.
The next morning I took a few more pictures at the summit in the daylight, then drove back to Doha in the evening to catch my next flight, to Bahrain.